The Toxic Card of Racism Trumps Hearts

A few months ago, during the Obama-at-Notre Dame controversy, I had a conversation with a journalist, during which I opined that the whole issue of life versus death was”and has been since the time of Moses”a contest between light and dark, and would continue to be so. The journalist said, “you just said ‘black and white,’” and teased me for being a racist. But I’d said “light and dark,” and he admitted, when he stopped laughing, that he had heard “light and dark,” but had immediately extrapolated it to “black and white” and then thought of Obama, hence the tease… . Continue Reading »

Let There Be Music

Recently Dan Cairns in the U.K. Times found listening to one of the songs from Paddy McAloon’s new album (recorded seventeen years ago but only released last week) to be a heartbreaking experience: “First, because, well, it’s so beautiful, it just is. Second, because you get such a clear sense of a supreme talent that you can’t help but mourn its subsequent concealment, and feel compassion for the concealer.” … Continue Reading »

Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (and Christ)

I have had this experience three times now, on three different occasions, in admittedly similar circumstances, but not similar enough to explain the coincidence: I am speaking from a podium to a fairly large audience on the topics of—to put it broadly—evil, suffering, and God; I have been talking for several minutes about Ivan Karamazov, and about things I have written on Dostoevsky, to what seems general approbation; then, for some reason or other, I happen to remark that, considered purely as an artist, Dostoevsky is immeasurably inferior to Tolstoy; at this, a single pained gasp of incredulity breaks out … Continue Reading »

Ground Zero: A Journal

September 11 was to be my first day of work at a new job in downtown Manhattan. Though New York was still very new to me, it was immediately obvious that something was terribly wrong. As I climbed the stairs of the subway just a few blocks from the World Trade Center, there was a palpable feeling of panic in the air as people stared, horrified, into the sky. I followed their gaze upward and I instantly understood. Smoke and fire were gushing from a gaping hole in the smooth, silvery surface of the right-hand tower… . Continue Reading »

In Praise of Fruit: A Review of Angel Time by Anne Rice

Asking Christopher Buckley to review a memoir of a Christ-haunted ex-Catholic who falls back into the arms of the Church is like inviting your diabetic friend to a dessert bar. What did you think of the banana pudding? Was it worth the coma? But that’s exactly what the New York Times did last year when they handed him Anne Rice’s spiritual autobiography, Called Out of Darkness… . Continue Reading »

Marriage, Morality, and Culture

The tide is going out. Words like fornication have a musty, antiquated ring. Unwed mothers no longer suffer social stigma. Divorce has become common. The large, complicated human reality of sexual desire, mating, romance, and childrearing no longer finds itself ruled by elaborate and widely accepted social norms. And now, of course, we are in the midst of a drive toward same-sex marriage… . Continue Reading »

What Happened at Medjugorje?

In 1981, a year after the death of ex-Yugoslavia’s communist dictator, Josip Broz Tito, events in Medjugorje, a small town in Bosnia-Hercegovina, began to stir the Christian world. Six Croatian Catholic children-four girls and two boys, then aged from ten to sixteen-claimed to have experienced visions of the Virgin Mary. Even now, after twenty-eight years, three of the Medjugorje seers still report nightly visitations … Continue Reading »

Yeah, But What Was in It for Mother Teresa?

This article by Richard John Neuhaus, who passed away January 8, 2009, was published in the February 1999 issue of First Things, and is reprinted below in honor of the feast day of Mother Teresa.A couple of years ago physicist Alan Sokal published an article in Social Text arguing in the most abstruse postmodernistic jargon that gravity, among other things, is a social construct. It was a hoax, of course, and when Sokol publicly revealed the fact it caused quite a sensation, heaping embarrassment upon the editors and their academic colleagues who had long since lost the capacity to discern the difference between rational discourse and their trendy gibberish. The academy was not amused… . Continue Reading »

Free Is Not God

I need to start by acknowledging my vested interest, as a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired Magazine, in celebrating the marketing concept of “Free,” which is, in essence, about profit-making through giveaways, does not worry about the livelihood of people like me. Ideally, in his thinking, basic content will be the thing provided for free, while the delivery modes and add-ons alone”computer hardware, broadband subscriptions, advertising, and so on”bring in the actual revenue. In the tones of the hip youngsters”“Generation Free””whom he claims will drive the future in a single trajectory, he writes, “Plus, stealing a physical thing deprives someone else of it and costs real money”not so for a digital file.” Since I doubt that (as he claims) I could make up for lost royalties by appearance fees and T-shirt sales, I feel personally annoyed at Anderson’s crusade… . Continue Reading »

Religion and Violence

On January 29, 2008, the editors of First Things graciously posted an article of mine called “Atheism and Violence.” It attempted to puncture the thesis of the New Atheists that religion is an anthropological phenomenon that uniquely leads unsuspecting and otherwise super-nice human beings to unmotivated acts of pointless violence. Tied to that notion is its correlative thesis, which the New Atheists also preposterously defend: that the demise of religion and the spread of atheism will inevitably lead to a future earthly eschaton of peace and harmony”nothing to kill or die for, no religion too… . Continue Reading »